9 Jul 2009


It's confirmed. The teaching of Science and Maths will revert to Bahasa Malaysia beginning 2010 - next year. I feel sorry for the teachers - they've gone for so many courses to prepare them to teach in English and now they have to be retrained to teach in Malay. What about the students? Many students, especially in urban areas prefer to learn the two subjects in English. Even Sarah said that when she studied Chemistry and biology in English she found it easier to understand - after all they already understood most of the terms.

The Education Minister has said that they are going to upgrade the teaching of English as well as extend the hours - but I think that this is not going to help that much. More needs to be done if we want to improve the level of proficiency of our students. And the first thing is to ensure that teachers themselves are proficient in the language. In my years at the Ministry I've come across teachers who could hardly speak a correct sentence, teachers who mispronounce words and teachers who think nothing of copying other people's test papers and passing them as their own work.

I think there is a whole generation of English teachers in Malaysia now who don't like to read, many who have never read a novel in English and many who don't even know the difference between a participle and a noun. And the frightening thing is they are teaching our young. But can we blame them? They come from a generation of young people who were taught "communication English" - a generation of students who were not taught grammar at all (grammar should only be taught in passing according to the Curriculum Development Centre). I remember arguing with Chelvi and Judith about the lack of grammar in the English syllabus back in the early 80s. BUt of course even Chelvi could not change the system - we were only the foot soldiers. Now after a whole generation of young Malaysians have grown up and finished their SPm without being able to speak English, the government realizes its mistake. But we can't rectify something like this. And at least Tun Dr Mahathir tried to change it with the teaching of Science and Maths in English. So now we arew back to square one - and the students again are the victims. Will we ever learn I wonder?

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